Lock Bumping & How To Prevent It

The concept of lock “bumping”, and the fact that there are many guides across the internet that explain exactly how to do it, is enough to scare the pants off most people. To put it simply, bumping a lock allows someone to defeat a wide variety of residential locks in just a few seconds, with little to no practice. Here’s the explanation from Consumer Reports:

A bump key is made by taking a key that already fits into a particular brand of lock and filing it down. But turning a blank key into a bump key isn’t as simple as it looks in those Web videos.

First, a key must fit into the lock someone wants to pickā€”even if the key can’t open the door, it must slide all the way into the lock. A thief would also need to schlep around hundreds of keys to the home(s) they intend to enter since there are so many different key fits on the market.

“Just think of the selection displayed when you get a key duplicated in a hardware store,” says John Galeotafiore, our director of testing for home improvement.

Next, the crook would need to file the cuts in the key down to the deepest depths and then use a “bumping” tool to bounce the pins and open the lock.

“Ultimately, the consumer is responsible for assessing the risk of an attack from bumping,” wrote Marc Weber Tobias, author of Locks, Safes, and Security. In a 2006 analysis on lock bumping, Tobias pointed out that apartment buildings or business complexes that utilize one standard lock brand and model face a high risk of having their locks compromised. The same goes for homeowners whose old keys fall into the wrong hands after a lock has been changed for a similar model.

The solution? Fortunately, there are several.

  1. Install high quality locks. Not all locks can be bumped, and consumers can buy very high-quality locks which will provide adequate protection from bumping and other entry methods used by criminals, says the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC).
  2. Buy smart locks. Kwikset has been a leader in the transition from traditional locks to smart locks, And has released several high quality Solutions to combat the threat. Smart keys are controlled with either pass codes or your cell phone, Which eliminates bumping as an entry method. Aside from that, it can assure you that your tront door is locked, that your child or other family member has arrived home safely, track when housekeepers and other service providers enter and exit your home, etc.
  3. Install lock bumping countermeasures. Quick add-ons to your existing locks like The Ultimate Lock can prevent any key from opening a lock, which prevents picking, bumping, etc. Consumer reports issued a great report on this subject, going over both cheap & expensive options to keep your family safe.